How we curate gyms

• by Map of Strength

Map of Strength is a directory of top gyms for enthusiast lifters and strength-sport athletes.

Unlike other gym directories, all of Map of Strength's gym listings are curated. Meaning every single gym that is submitted to the site gets reviewed by a real human before it's published to the map and directory.

There are upsides and downsides to this approach. But most of the trade-offs are related to quality vs quantity.

With a curated directory all of the listings are far more likely to have higher-quality and up-to-date information. With the main downside being that the total amount of listings will be lower than directories that gather their data via bot scraping.

But how do we decide whether a gym is suitable to go on the directory?


Gyms come in all different shapes and sizes. Especially in strength sports. Which is why we have some general criteria that gyms must meet, and then there are criteria that should be met in other areas be considered a gym for a specific strength sport.

The most basic screening is whether you can use chalk. If the gym doesn't allow chalk use, we probably won't add it to the list. This works as a great initial filter because basically all strength sports regularly use chalk.

After that, we want to be sure that the gym caters to Strongman, Powerlifitng, Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, and any combination thereof.

Usually, looking at the equipment that the gym has reveals most of what we need to know about whether it's suitable for a particular sport.

Strongman gyms tend to have equipment for many different events - yokes, farmer's handles, logs, atlas stones, monster dumbbells, axles, sandbags, and so on.

Powerlifting gyms tend to have calibrated steel plates, platforms, monolifts, competition style benches, chains, bands, and specialty bars.

Weightlifting gyms have barbells with bearings (in men's and women's sizes), jerk blocks, platforms, and bumper plates.

Whereas bodybuilding gyms will be filled with specialized machines and equipment designed to isolate muscle groups. They might also have a posing area.

But equipment isn't the full story.

The very best gyms tend to have a fantastic community and atmosphere. They're friendly, supportive, and love their sport. And rather than staring at a stranger who comes into the gym, the members are more likely to ask if you need a spot.

It's more difficult to judge these more subjective qualities of a gym based on the submission details. But you can learn a lot when you look at social media and reviews of the gym.

Additionally, the gym may host competitions or it might be home to a team of competitors who meet regularly. It likely also has coaches that specialize in particular strength sports too.

Day passes or drop-in availability is a huge bonus too. After all people will be using the map to find a good gym when they're traveling away from their regular gym. One of the main reasons we built the site was to help solve this exact problem.

Finally, most of the gyms are independently owned and run. It's not a requirement, it just happens to be that the gyms that fit best are generally not franchises.

Curation process

Curation starts with a submission.

Submissions are completed by a person who wants to add a gym to the directory. Whilst the only required information is the gym's name, gyms can be reviewed and added to the directory much quicker when more data is submitted.

You can check the current listings on the site to get an idea of what the info looks like.

Once a gym is submitted it enters our review queue.

Gyms are reviewed in submission order and our review process is really simple. However, gyms with only a little information may get a lower priority if there are lots of gyms in the queue.

Then, we:

  • briefly check the data for any obvious errors
  • look at the websites and social media profiles that were added to the listing
  • validate the address
  • validate facilities, equipment, and other information as much as possible
  • add any missing data that we found in the previous steps
  • approve the gym

Finally, if there are good and accessible images, we will add an image (sometimes more) to the gym's listing too.

If this gym isn't suitable for the directory for whatever reason, it's removed from the queue. Unfortunately, right now there isn't a way for us to reach out to the person who submitted the gym in order to tell them the approval status of the gym.

Keeping information up to date

Curating and validating gym information is great - but gyms grow and move out of their current facility into a new one. They buy new equipment, and so on. So how is the information kept up-to-date and relevant?

First, gym owners can manage their own gym's Map of Strength profile by claiming their gym. This gives ability to edit details whenever it's necessary. So if they buy a new monolift, change their social media names, or update their pricing, they're free to do that themselves.

We also have a separate process for maintaining gym listings which we will write about in the future. In short, listings are re-reviewed in a similar way to the initial review.

This also means that approved gyms can be removed if they stop meeting our requirements.

Can I submit my own gym?

Of course! You can submit your gym here and we'll review it ASAP.

Written by Map of Strength
© 2021 Map of Strength
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